Tag Archives: Illy

Restaurant Review: The Stall is Proudly Franschhoek!

The Stall opened in Franschhoek at the beginning of this month in the old Pippin Farm Stall at the entrance to Franschhoek, alongside Franschhoek Cellars.  It is an informal eatery, serving only Franschhoek wines, and is decorated in French colours.

Owned by Tim Adams, the owner of Essence higher up on the main road, The Stall attracted attention during its renovations.   The building belongs to Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof, and it was rumoured a few years ago that Chef Reuben Riffel would make a steakhouse of it.  The builders shared that three potential tenants had been to see the building: Chef Reuben, Tim, as well as the owner of Kalfi’s.   Whilst Essence concentrates on Breakfast, light lunches and cakes, The Stall is open for lunch and dinner.

There is ample parking, especially in the evening when the Franschhoek Cellars is closed, and outside seating is provided, with a play area for the children.  The branding is not very prominent from the R45, but most of the locals should know where it is by now, many having been invited to attend the opening function, at which a selection of the restaurant’s foods were offered.  The interior is plain, with white Greek style chairs and wooden top tables. A Brugge sign brightens up the interior, Tim not knowing why Marc added this decor touch, not really making sense.  A fireplace will be cosy in winter.  Vases of fresh flowers on the window sills are a nice touch.  One long table with red chairs is for larger groups.  A surprise is material serviettes, with red stitching.   The walls are painted white, and the kitchen wall is tiled in the French colours of blue, white and red, covered with racks for the glasses.  The cutlery is very basic, as are the salt and pepper cellars.

The chef is Marilie van Niekerk, previously of Van Hunks in Cape Town, at the Tsitsikamma Lodge and at Storms River. She is bubbly, and a very good hostess.  On the day we returned to eat there, some of the staff had not arrived at work due to the farmworker unrest outside Franschhoek, for which Chef Marilie apologised profusely, yet the service was good. Her biggest excitement is that the country’s Eat Out Chef of the Year, Margot Janse of The Tasting Room, had been to eat at the restaurant three times already.  Chef Marilie has a herb garden she is developing in wine barrels outside the restaurant. The menu is simple, focused on flat-based pizzas, with interesting topping combinations, such as a delicious spinach, bacon and avocado (R75); an unusual roast lamb, mint, caramelised onion, grilled aubergine and feta (R79); and white anchovy, capers, olives and oregano (R65).  The pizza base is very thin, and I found some of the shards when cut to be very sharp.  For starters one can order a selection of salads, ranging from R49 for Greek salad to R72 for a carpaccio salad.  A variety of burgers is available, made with beef, chicken, vegetables, lamb, and cheese, ranging in price from R65 – R75. Platters are available: cheese with preserves and nuts (R90), antipasti (R120), and mezze (R95).  For the main course one can order a 250 g rib-eye steak with pepper sauce and chips at R95; grilled baby calamari (R85); and pasta dishes. I ate the best ever Tiramisu at The Stall, served in an Illy branded cup, and being thick and creamy (38).  One can also order chocolate pudding, banana split with butterscotch sauce; and pecan nut flap jacks, the dessert prices ranging from R32 – R45.

It is not a surprise that the Wolftrap wine by the glass comes from landlord Boekenhoutskloof, inexpensive at R15 per glass/R65 per bottle for the White, Red, and Rosé.  The sparkling wines offered are a 375ml Graham Beck Cuvee Brut (R110) and Brut Rosé (R180), as well as Pierre Jourdan Cuvée Brut (R150).  No vintages are listed for the wines.  White wines range up to R 160 for the Stony Brook Cask Selection Semillon, and to R280 for Boekenhoutskloof’ The Chocolate Block for the red wines.   The Stall offers a good opportunity to taste a cross-section of wines from fifteen Franschhoek wine estates, including award-winning Chamonix, Glenwood, Lynx, La Bri, La Petite Ferme, and Holden Manz.

The Stall is a friendly, casual, and inexpensive eatery in Franschhoek, likely to be attractive to locals in particular, and to tourists with children.  I have already returned for the Tiramisu!

The Stall, R45, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-4497. Website and Social Media to come.  Monday – Sunday, 12h00 – ‘late-ish‘ (closed on Sunday evenings).

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Franschhoek: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Rhapsody’s set to become a restaurant of note in Green Point!

Rhapsody’s opened in Green Point last week, where Doppio Zero used to be, perfectly positioned for business when the Cape Town Stadium hosts events, and for locals in general.  It is the first full-scale restaurant of this Pretoria-based franchise group in Cape Town, and the 12th for the group, which has ambitious restaurant opening plans for next year.  It was chatting to the Executive Chef Claire Brown, previously of Pierneef à La Motte, and some of the passionate managers that gave me confidence that this restaurant won’t be another franchise restaurant, but one that wants to make a difference for Capetonians.

I was intrigued when I first saw the logo on the boards outside the restaurant when I visited neighbouring Café Extrablatt about a month ago, and they told me the name of the restaurant.  The franchisor of the group and owner of the Cape Town branch is Michalis Xekalos, who opened his first Rhapsody’s branch in Menlyn, Pretoria ten years ago.  There are Rhapsody’s restaurants in Ghana, Bloemfontein, Polokwane, and Bedfordview, and an ambitious expansion plan for next year includes Continue reading →

Restaurant Review: Cassis Paris Salon de Thé très délicieux

I have been to Cassis Paris in the Gardens Centre many times, and often had a sit-down quiche at the tables and chairs just outside the shop there.   The sit-down service there has been disappointing, not matching the wonderful products they serve in their Patisserie and Boulangerie.  The owner Patrick Moreau now owns three Cassis Paris outlets, and has just added a good Salon de Thé to his Newlands branch, bringing Paris to Newlands, and matching the quality of his wonderful breads and pastries, with some service deficiencies.

Moreau was born in Brittany, but grew up in Paris.  He met his South African wife on a cruise ship, where both were working, and they worked in Bangkok before Moreau had the yearning to start his own business.  A holiday back ‘home’ in South Africa in 2007 led him to identify a gap in the market for an upmarket French-style patisserie and boulangerie.  He opened in the Gardens Centre, well located next door to Raith Gourmet, three years ago, and in Newlands eighteen months ago.  The Salon and the outlet in Constantia Village were opened in December.  His products inside the display cabinets at the 15 on Orange hotel have been removed.  The business is so successful that Moreau is at his Montague Gardens factory, overseeing the production of the pastries and breads, during the week.  Over weekends he circulates between his outlets.   He told me that Somerset West and Mouille Point are on his wishlist for future outlets.

I was impressed to see Patrick hands-on behind the counter of his Newlands branch, in which the patisserie counter was filled with the most beautiful selection of pastries.   A smaller counter deeper in the shop sells a selection of breads, croissants and brioche.

The Salon de Thé is a smallish space, with white tables and chairs set inside as well as outside, with branded Cassis Paris umbrellas protecting the outside tables against the heat.  My table was wobbly, but the waiter quickly fixed this problem. The colour scheme at Cassis Paris is a most definite purple, and the bench attached to the wall inside the restaurant is purple.  Cutlery is by Fortis, and is obviously shiny new, offered with a purple paper serviette. The menu cover is purple, as is the apron the staff wear over a black shirt and black pants.  The menu is extensive, and is neatly presented in plastic sleeves.   It focuses on the products which Cassis makes, presented in the French style.   French style chanson music was switched on after about an hour of my arrival, and was well matched to the theme.

I love that the Salon serves an all day breakfast, even if their breakfast dishes differ from our usual South African taste.   I had the Cocotte Cassis, served as a one-pot (in a purple Le Creuset mini-pot) breakfast with potato croquettes, tomato, eggs and bacon (R38), served with toast.  It consisted mostly of potato.  Other Light Meals are muesli, yoghurt and fruit (R35); the Le Classique two-egg and bacon breakfasts costs R30; Pain Perdu (French Toast) costs R 22; a Cocotte Paris consists of crème fraîche, camembert, Toulouse sausage, bacon, spinach, onions, croûtons and egg (R45).   The La Complète is a savoury pancake containing Gypsey ham and egg, and costs R40; salads range in price from R 32 – R50; lovely quiches  (spinach and feta, and ham and cheese) cost R26; a Provençale tart costs R28, and sandwiches R25 – R33.  The Viennoisseries section lists about fifteen pastries which are available from the patisserie.  Brioche, croissants, pain au chocolate and apple turnovers can also be ordered.   A full page of the menu is dedicated to twenty-five “Sweets”, including chocolate eclairs (R16) and their popular Concerto (chocolate mousse and chocolate biscuit) costing R26.   My dessert choice was a Tiramisu (R28), served in a plastic cup that looked shabby in that it had a crack in it.  Its content was excellent however, drier than we are used to locally, with not much creaminess.  Imported French teas Mariage Frères are available at R24.   If one would like wine with one’s meal, one can buy it next door at Wine Concepts.

Initially the waiter serving me was attentive, and fetched and carried what I requested, but once I had finished eating, he left me stranded, and I had to ask another waitress to bring a dessert and Illy cappuccino (R14).   Moreau’s wife came to take over the service, and apologised, explaining that my waiter had to take over the coffee-making as the person designated to do this had to have a lunch break!   If one takes any pastries away, they are neatly packed in a purple Cassis Paris box, with branding in gold and a golden board on which the pastry is presented.  The bill says thank you in English and French.

Cassis Paris has a fantastic opportunity to win business from the nearby Melissa’s, which is attracting greater dissatisfaction from its long-standing customers.  However, it needs to improve its service, as this is Melissa’s weakness too.   There is only a service door connecting the shop and the Salon, which could mean that Cassis Paris staff may neglect the clients in the sitdown Salon de Thé.  I walked past Melissa’s to get to my car, and Melissa’s was half full, showing that it had lost some custom to Cassis on that day.  Moreau will have to check on his branches – I was in the Constantia branch yesterday, and was served by a chewing gum chewing staff member, an absolute no-no in the hospitality industry.  Cassis Paris has an opportunity to serve teas and coffees from its Constantia branch on a reduced scale, served with its great pastries, given the poor coffees served by the close-by The Village Beanery.

POSTSCRIPT 3/6/12: Cassis Salon de thé has just opened in Gardens’ Centre, with a superb menu and excellent service.  It is located on the upstairs level, and not next to its shop.  The Vol au vent is excellent value at R48.  All pastries stocked in the shop can be ordered to eat or take-away at the restaurant, but at a surcharge. Opening hours are Monday – Friday 7h30 – 19h00; Saturday 7h30 – 17h30; Sunday 7h30 – 14h30.

Cassis Paris Salon de Thé,  Newlands Village, corner Kildare and Main Road, Newlands.  Tel (021) 671-1305.  French Oven Head Office Tel (021) 552-1305.  www.cassis.co.za. (The website contains a listing of every product sold in the stores, with a description and a good quality photograph of each.  The website does not list the new Constantia store, nor the Salon de Thé).   Monday – Friday 8h00 – 18h00, Saturday 8h00 – 16h00, Sunday 8h00 – 14h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Restaurant Review: Illyria Coffee Concepts most stylish coffee shop in Stellenbosch

I had heard about the newly opened Illyria Coffee Concepts in the recently refurbished and modernised Eikestad Mall in Stellenbosch, well-positioned next door to Woolworths.   It is the most stylish coffee shop I have seen in a long time (the last contender for this accolade, Black at 15 on Orange, has closed down).   It serves a collection of stylish cakes and other sweet treats, but disappoints on the savoury side.

The coffee brand Illy dominates visually, and the decor theme is red and white.  There are beautiful white leather chairs and tables, the tables perhaps a little too low for the chairs, and the food is served with very stylish Abert cutlery, a material serviette and small Peugeot salt and pepper pots (I have also seen Peugeot at the Planet Restaurant and at Delaire Graff Restaurant).  

The cakes, muffins and cupcakes are beautifully made, and come from a supplier in Franschhoek.   I was disappointed with my baguette, filled with cheese, tomato, lettuce and cucumber, although tasty and not expensive at R29, did not match the style standard of the sweet treats served at Illyria, and was just presented on a white plate with potato chips out of a packet, which I did not eat, and defeated the choice of the healthy baguette filling.

The menu is printed on a laminated hard board.  What is clever is a number of well-priced combination offers, each including a cup of coffee/cappuccino/tea.  So, for example, a muffin, a small chocolate cupcake and a small carrot cupcake, with the beverage, costs R25; chocolate nut cake, lemon meringue and the beverage costs R45;   chocolate brownie and beverage R30; carrot cake, chocolate cake, baked cheese cake and the beverage costs R 35; and a carrot cupcake, beautiful looking Belgian white chocolate cupcake and the beverage costs R40.    Individual cake slices are charged at R27 – R35.   Salads start at R39 for a salad made with vegetables, and costs R45 if made with pasta or meat.   Sandwiches start at R29, and cost R36 when filled with meat.  A cappuccino is well-priced at R13, teas cost R11, muffins R15, and croissants cost R16 served plain, or R26 when filled with cheese and ham.  Deliveries are done to other businesses in the Eikestad Mall and surrounding area.

Illyria is owned by a family collection of brother Ramon Corie (not the friendliest restaurateur, in my experience of his Manouche, a Lebanese restaurant in the same street in Stellenbosch), sister Shaan and brother-in-law Richard Gaybba, and sister Tamsyn Pienaar.  I was impressed with the Illyria Loyalty Card which I received when paying the bill, offering a free coffee for every 10.

I was impressed with the decor, and I am sure that the new menu that is being worked on will look at improving the savoury offerings and presentation.  It is a very comfortable modern place to relax in, and well airconditioned for the Boland heat.

Illyria Coffee Concepts, upstairs, Eikestad Mall, Andringa Street, Stellenbosch.  Tel (021) 886-8522.  No website.  Open Monday – Friday 8h30 – 18h00, Saturday – Sunday 8h30 – 14h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage